I stopped by Clermont around noon today to do the back of the hive lift test and add a bit of fondant to the lighter hives. So far the hives look normal for December. There was no evidence of large amounts of dead bees on the bottom board based on the small amount I could see by looking into the reduced entrance. There were several bees flying from one or two hives but mostly no bee activity in the entrances. I did not see any signs that indicate issues. I looked for things like excessive dead bees on the ground in front of the hives.
For those that are following the BroodMinder data I been updating the site. You can find it here:
I find it interesting that the hives’ cluster temperature sensor is reported as above both the outside and under the inner cover sensors. I also find it interesting that the humidity were the cluster is located appears to be controlled. Maybe I’m just being hopeful, but the numbers are within reasonable parameters for a healthy hive. It will be interesting to see if the temperatures climb when brood production starts, maybe late February? Hive weight has dropped from around 160 pounds in mid September to 136 pounds today. I did not feed this hive.
Three of the hives were a bit lighter than I would like for early December and since I have fondant available and no wind, I decided to add a blob to these three. Other beekeepers may find that opening the hive when the temperature is around 48° F to be unadvisable, but starvation is a real threat and a quick fondant addition is an easy way to avoid this. I didn’t have the inner cover open for more than 30 seconds and when I placed the inner cover back down I pressed on it to flatten the fondant. All three hives had a few bees checking me out. We shall see if this was a good idea.
I have not finalized the February nuc production planning meeting for a date and time. I’ll let everyone know what date works out best for Clermont’s staff and go from there. I envision that by February there will be reasonable live hive evidence such as bees flying on the occasional warm day. From that point, we can plan things like queen purchase amount and shipping schedules. In keeping with my past experience, queens are available mid to late April which works out to be April 23rd or 30th for those of us that want to split hives or make nucs and need a queen or two. What equipment you plan to use also needs to be available – nuc boxes make excellent Christmas gifts!
Days start getting longer after December 21st and spring 2020 starts Thursday March 19th .